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Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Siddhartha (original 1922; edition 2004)

by Herman Hesse

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
25,776354105 (3.96)522
In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.… (more)
Authors:Herman Hesse
Info:Neeland Media LLC (2004), Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922)

  1. 123
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    The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar thematically.
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    Phantastes by George MacDonald (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes of a young man looking for spiritual meaning.
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    The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version (RSV) by Thomas Nelson & Sons (charlie68)
    charlie68: Connects with a lot of the same themes in Ecclesiastes and the Gospels.
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    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Othemts)
    Othemts: These books share a similar quest for self-knowledge with the ultimate realization that what one is looking for was with you all the time. After all, there's no place like Om

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English (305)  Spanish (17)  French (7)  Italian (6)  Swedish (4)  German (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (3)  Catalan (3)  Dutch (2)  All languages (350)
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Two percent of all GoodReads reviewers for Siddhartha rated it two stars. Looking at their reasons, I can conclude I am in their crowd. As I was reading I wondered if Hesse was a European stereotype during India's British occupation who misappropriated the culture into flat archetypes that the European audience would eat up. It didn't seem authentic to me.

Additionally, despite the main character having lengthy philosophic monologues, he and everyone else seemed to have simplistic thoughts and minimal emotions. He was perpetually lost and despite the wording acted nonchalant toward life. Nothing seemed real. It's like taking a short children's book where you don't have the purpose to develop the characters or world but you flood 150 pages of the main character's circular reasoning. When Siddhartha's age was revealed I couldn't believe it--I thought he was young, in fact, even an archetype of a very young, stupid, male stereotype--no groundedness or intelligent thoughts that cause the individual to grow. It was painful to see this youthful impulsiveness continue all the way through.

I clapped sarcastically and mentally chanting, "Bravo," the way the "love" was for the son, even on the friend's perspective, who up to that point I thought was closest to a decent archetype. If I consider cultural relativity, is it okay to say love is bad for a spoiled child and it's better to let him run away and have zero family relations and stability? Considering the build up to that point in the story, I can't say it's worth wondering and just dismiss it as the same weirdness as the rest of the story. After all, with the cultural misappropriations elsewhere, I doubt Hesse practised cultural relativity for this book.

I considered not finishing, but I thought there was a chance the awfulness of the second quarter would end. It sort of did, but the damage had been done and I was still annoyed. Just not my type of story or my type of character. Interesting, after finishing this review, a goofy relief came over me and I thought, "Dude, that was trippy." Actually, I think even though I didn't use the words before, I had that wordless impression most of the story. ( )
  leah_markum | Oct 28, 2022 |
I'm terribly disappointed.

The prose is lovely, but I was expecting more. If I didn’t have a rudimentary understanding of the most basic tenets of Hinduism and Buddhism, I might feel differently. However I do, and the book strikes me mostly as a European rehash of ancient Vedic ideas.

I also derive little pleasure from quest for enlightenment stories. I expect that’s partly because I neither need nor desire an outside meaning for life. I make my own purpose. Being is enough for me, so I struggle to relate to people whose sole source of unhappiness is not knowing the ultimate truth of life.

Also I must say, the lead character is utterly unappealing. He's miserable and superior pretty much up until the last ten pages or so. Everything is made so easy for him, yet he suffers. I just don't have much in the way of patience for that sort of person. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Sep 26, 2022 |
This might have influenced me when I was younger, as it has many others. While Hesse is again exploring his theme of the intellectual's place in society, this famous novel of course is also strongly centered on Eastern religion. But it follows a character arc I never saw coming. The opening chapters lulled me with their expected tone, filled with contemplative and indulgent overlapping sentences. I had falsely assumed this was a fictionalized biography of the Buddha, but in an early chapter Siddhartha actually meets the Buddha (Gotama), and from that point on I had no idea where this was going.

Siddhartha steps away from the Buddha's teaching - from all teaching - in the belief that he cannot find true peace of soul through following anyone else's path, only through pursuing his own to self-discovery. He begins to indulge in the world, to experiment with the senses, beginning with sexual pleasure and then proceeding to capitalism and riches. This proves to be a dead end that I felt was an unfair analysis, but Siddhartha has more stones to turn over before his journey is complete and these bring missing shades of meaning to his experience. The lesson about fathers allowing sons to make their own errors and follow their own paths was well portrayed. There are many paths up the spiritual mountain and all may arrive at inner peace. We must allow for this in witnessing the journeys of others, and in looking back on our own. ( )
  Cecrow | Sep 8, 2022 |
Corto y genial ( )
  Alvaritogn | Jul 1, 2022 |
  laplantelibrary | Apr 26, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 305 (next | show all)
[It] attempts to postulate an answer to the riddle of man's confused and contradictory existence in this universe.

» Add other authors (56 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hesse, Hermannprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Appelbaum, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bamji, FirdousNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bernofsky, SusanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Binkhuysen, A.M.H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brice, SilvijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coelho, PauloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cunningham, KeithCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heberlein, AnnPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmberg, NilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Iyer, PicoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kohn, Sherab ChödzinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuhn, HeribertContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesser, RikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lustig, AlvinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mila, MassimoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neugroschel, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearson, NickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosner, HildaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosner, HildaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Xuan, Xuan LocCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Lieber, verehrter Romain Rolland!

Seit dem Herbst des Jahres 1914, da die seit kurzem angebrochene Atemnot der Geistigkeit auch mir plötzlich spürbar wurde, und wir einander von fremden Ufern her die Hand gaben, im Glauben an dieselben übernationalen Notwendigkeiten, seither habe ich den Wunsch gehabt, Ihnen einmal ein Zeichen meiner Liebe und zugleich eine Probe meines Tuns und einen Blick in meine Gedankenwelt zu geben. Nehmen Sie die Widmung des ersten Teiles meiner noch unvollendeten indischen Dichtung freundlichst entgegen von Ihrem

Hermann Hesse
First words
In the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the riverbank near the boats, in the shade of the Sal-wood forest, in the shade of the fig tree is where Siddhartha grew up, the handsome son of the Brahman, the young falcon, together with his friend Govinda, son of a Brahman.
[attributions added]
Kamaswami: "... And what is it now what you've got to give? What is it that you've learned, what you're able to do?"
Siddhartha: "I can think. I can wait. I can fast."
Kamaswami: "That's everything?"
Siddhartha: "I believe, that's everything!"
Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal.
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
But I think it is important to only love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration, and respect.
The purpose and the essential properties were not somewhere behind the things, they were in them, in everything.
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Wikipedia in English


In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.

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Book description
Chi è Siddharta? È uno che cerca, e cerca soprattutto di vivere intera la propria vita. Passa di esperienza in esperienza, dal misticismo alla sensualità, dalla meditazione filosofica alla vita degli affari, e non si ferma presso nessun maestro, non considera definitiva nessuna acquisizione, perché ciò che va cercato è il tutto, il misterioso tutto che si veste di mille volti cangianti. E alla fine quel tutto, la ruota delle apparenze, rifluirà dietro il perfetto sorriso di Siddharta, che ripete il "costante, tranquillo, fine, impenetrabile, forse benigno, forse schernevole, saggio, multirugoso sorriso di Gotama, il Buddha, quale egli stesso l'aveva visto centinaia di volte con venerazione". Siddharta è senz'altro l'opera di Hesse più universalmente nota. Questo breve romanzo di ambiente indiano, pubblicato per la prima volta nel 1922, ha avuto infatti in questi ultimi anni una strepitosa fortuna. Prima in America, poi in ogni parte del mondo, i giovani lo hanno riscoperto come un loro testo, dove non trovavano solo un grande scrittore moderno ma un sottile e delicato saggio, capace di dare, attraverso questa parabola romanzesca, un insegnamento sulla vita che evidentemente i suoi lettori non incontravano altrove.
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